RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday that he has obtained court orders to permanently ban a network of locksmiths and has fined those involved more than $1.2 million.

Cooper's lawsuit named 704 Locksmith of Charlotte and owner Anna Konevsky. Konevsky's 704 Locksmith does business under several names, including Raleigh Locksmith, Durham Locksmith, Apex Locksmith and Smithfield Locksmith.

The suit also names NC Charlotte Locksmith, which does business using a variety of names, including Charlotte Locksmith, Concord Locksmith, Hickory Locksmith, and Shelby Locksmith. Locksmith Services of Charlotte, which also operates as Cary Locksmith and Atlantis Locksmith were also named in the lawsuit, as was Tamir Avraham of Charlotte, president of Locksmith Services.

Cooper received a court order for a permanent injunction and judgment against the defendants, barring them, their employees, contractors and successors from further engaging in any locksmith services in the state.

"Businesses that break the law and take advantage of consumers in their time of need have no business operating in North Carolina," Cooper said.

According to the judgment, the defendants are required to pay a total of $1,245,000. Avraham, 704 Locksmith and Locksmith Services are each required to pay $395,000 in civil penalties, which amounts to $5,000 each per week for every week that they allegedly operated illegally in the state. Konevsky will pay $60,000 in civil penalties, calculated from $5,000 per week for each week she allegedly illegally did business in the state.

Locksmiths are required by law to be licensed. Cooper alleges that the defendants don't employ any licensed locksmiths, even though they advertise and perform locksmith services.

Consumers often complained that they were quoted one price on the phone and then charged a much higher price by the locksmith who came to do the work.

"Nobody likes to be locked out, but it's even worse if the company you call for help rips you off," Cooper said. "To avoid scams, do your homework to find a legitimate, licensed locksmith."

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